In 2016, Electronic Arts published what may well be the last great big-budget shooter, Respawn Entertainment’s Titanfall 2. The game, to quote a particularly NSFW Achewood, was James Bond in a towel: full of astoundingly intricate level design, fast and balletic movement, and incredibly satisfying gunplay. It was revelatory, a whole new kind of fun emerging from something a lot of players already enjoyed, like if Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 suddenly got a tango mod, or an NFL team put out a Christmas album. Then EA spent the next seven years doing everything it could to not make a sequel.
The latest affront comes via a Bloomberg report saying that EA has canceled a secret single-player game in the Titanfall/Apex Legends universe that was in development at Respawn. This would be the second time (that we know of) that a Titanfall sequel was canceled — the free-to-play battle royale game Apex Legends began its life as a Titanfall 2 follow-up.
There are likely boring business reasons for the cancellation. Titanfall 2 was a massive critical success, but EA didn’t consider it a financial hit — and unfortunately, just about any single-player game is going to struggle in comparison to a free-to-play game like Apex Legends, which has made more than $2 billion. None of this makes sense in what we’ll call Regular People Math: EA also continues to print money with the microtransaction-driven FIFA Ultimate Team mode (so much so that the company now omits that game’s revenue from its annual reports). And yet the publisher has just finished shutting down a few projects — including, yes, a Titanfall mobile game, Apex Legends Mobile.
“No more Titanfall sequels” is pretty low on the list of reasons that unchecked growth in big-budget video game profits is bad. But it’s not not on the list.